Michael Kimmel wrote a great article on the Steubenville gang rape a couple of weeks ago.
As I found in my interviews with more than 400 young men for my book Guyland, in the aftermath of these sorts of events – when high-status high school athletes commit felonies, especially gang rape – they are surrounded and protected by their fathers, their school administrations and their communities. These out-of-control, rapacious thugs are our school’s heroes — “our guys,” as the gang rapists at Glen Ridge High School in New Jersey were called nearly two decades ago. The players themselves hold to a code of silence, the omerta of sexual assault: No one ever rats out a fellow bro. The parents, the school and the community circle wagons in a culture of protection around the boys.
It’s often the girl herself, and her parents, who are vilified and receive death threats for daring to expose the crime in the first place. Raped boys, too, dare not complain: A few years ago, after rookies on the Mepham High School (Long Island) football team were sodomized with broom handles, golf balls and pine cones in a pre-season hazing ritual, the rookies’ parents got anonymous death threats for standing up for their brutalized sons.
This seems like a less than ideal arrangement.
At the moment, we’re hearing a chorus of adults saying “boys will be boys”– surely the most depressing four words spoken about members of my gender. Haven’t you noticed that we always say that when boys have done something really bad? We shrug our collective shoulders in resignation – nothing we can do about it. How come we don’t say, “Oh wow, a man walked on the moon – boys will be boys!” Or “A man won the Novel Prize – boys will be boys!” “A man is working to cure cancer … ” you get the idea. It’s a pernicious type of male bashing to assume that boys can do no better than be wild rapacious animals. We can do better than this – and we can insist on better from boys as well.
What could be more “misandrist”? Why aren’t the MRAs all over it? Why are they all over feminists instead?
The Steubenville 2
did what they did because they felt entitled to, because they knew they could get away with it. Because they knew that their coaches, their families, their friends, their teammates and the police department–indeed, the entire town would rally around them and protect them from the consequences of what they’ve done.
Because the Steubenville 2 is really the Steubenville 18,437 (I’ve subtracted the girl victim and her parents). Until the community rallies around the victim and not the perpetrators, the shame of gang rape is on them all. All.
The global public outcry in India has begun to change their public conversation about gang rape. Citizens of Steubenville have a moral existential choice about where they stand. Whose side will they be on?
I have an educated guess, but I’ll keep it to myself.